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Eminem's Influence on Detroit
Eminem More Than Just a Rapper
At twelve years of age, Marshall Mathers III, known later as Eminem or Slim Shady, moved with his mother to Warren, a suburb that borders Detroit along Eight Mile Rd. The kid from the trailer park eventually became one of the biggest cultural icons this city has ever known.
His rise to fame is half-detailed in the semi-fictional film, 8 Mile. His road to rapping stardom wound through some tough neighborhoods and was blocked by one significant obstacle - breaking into the mostly black rap scene as a white kid from the suburbs.
The film explores Eminem's background and shows what the freestyle rap battles he engaged in were all about. It's a great story to complement Eminems' real life and his journey from high school dropout to poetic musician. The words from the songs he wrote, highlighted in the Eight Mile film, are more than just lyrics to Detroiters; they are the hopes and dreams realized of a people living in a hardscrabble city, many whom seek a better life, too.
Eminem's Songs Unite a City
A person needs to live in or near Detroit to understand the city's demographics. This is especially true where Eight Mile Rd. is concerned. It's known as the dividing line between white and black, between safety and crime, between the haves and the have-not's.
Eight Mile Rd. stretches from the East Side of Detroit to the West Side. The East Side, where Eminem grew up in bordering Warren, is a tough collection of neighborhoods. Detroit's reputation as a dangerous city is a reasonable label; yet, and the 8 mile movie portrays this well, the city is still filled with people who aren't intolerant toward those attempting to integrate. Eminem took a few beatings and insults before he gained acceptance with the city's mostly black East Side residents, but his struggle to make his way in a world closed off to outsiders gained him instant credibility in the rap music world.
There's a word some Detroiters use for white people spotted in the rougher neighborhoods: tourists. Once the other rappers and fans realized the kid wasn't going to back down and run back to the suburbs, they started listening to what he was saying in his songs. He was obviously no tourist, and his own message of overcoming odds to make a mark in the world resounded loudly over the city and eventually, the entire world.
Warning: Unedited Video. Some Explicit Lyrics.
Eminem Still Overcoming the Odds
In 2005, Eminem entered a rehab facility for addiction treatment for a serious pill habit. At a time when Americans were increasingly becoming addicted to pain killers and sleep aids, this news again displayed the very human side of the artist. For several years, Eminem's star faded as other artists took his place on the Billboard charts. Many wondered if he'd ever release a new album.
Then, in 2009, he did. His Relapse album didn't wow people the way some of his previous rap albums had, but it did signify his return. And in 2010, he released Recovery, an album with songs so deep in meaning and attitude that many of Eminem's fans consider it his best work, ever.
His title, I'm Not Afraid, brought a message to addicts that there was a way out. Considering Detroit has a crippling drug problem on its streets, the Eminem that rose to the top in the rap world was back and with a new message of hope for Detroiters.
His lyrics on Recovery were gushed about by critics as lyrical poetry. Poets and authors came out to support Eminem's craft and message. His music is generally considered to contain a positive message for youths, a provocative new opinion applied to rap music considering the negative press previously applied to much of this music genre.
Eminem's Music Changed the Way Detroiter's See Black and White
If the past is any indication, Eminem's music will remain relevant for a long, long time. He's sure to come out with new stuff, whether it be a Chrysler commercial or an album, and it's always relevant to Detroiters.
His song, Beautiful, came from the Relapse album in 2009. The video for the song was shot in Detroit. The pride coming through the music and video was something Detroiters have always felt about their city. It's a town depicted in the worst light, perhaps that has something to do with it, but the people who live there will defend it vigorously; just like what Eminem was doing in his Beautiful video.
Eminem's music reaches many interested ears all over the world, but to the people of Detroit, well, they know what he's talking about. They know what he had to go through to get where he is today. They have as much hope for him as they have for their city.
Eminem--that white kid from the trailer park across Eight Mile--transcended race, and caused blacks and whites in Detroit to take a closer, more reflective look at one another. Because the unheard, underlying message from this epic rap star is one of brotherhood; it is a message that's telling us to forget about outside appearances. He's telling Detroit and the world that that stuff don't mean sh*t.